Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
After a virtual lifetime of watching and kind of loving, while trashing Sci-Fi Channel original movies, we do have to give credit where credit is due and today the credit goes to veteran Sci-Fi Channel movie director Todor Chapkanov and his directorial debut from a couple years back 'Copperhead'.  Does 'Copperhead' suffer from the typical Sci-Fi Channel original shortcomings such as a squeezed budget, some suspect acting, and shoddy CGI?  Of course it does silly.  But there are those rare times when the folks behind the scenes can figure out a workaround, and this is one of those times.

Wild Bill Longley (Brad Johnson) is heading west.  Not because there's gold out that way but because he can avoid snakes by heading that way.  Before that though he stops into this little out of the way town to holler at his boy Murphy, only to get the news that Murphy was gunned down by the rat bastard outlaw Jesse Evans (Billy Drago).  This doesn't make Wild Bill happy, and he was thinking about taking Evans down but the snakes are on their way and they will probably end up killing Jesse anyway.  Now we do have a little problem with this since Wild Bill seemed more than willing to let every single member of this town die, including the children of which of there were plenty, as long as he made it out before the snakes came.  Come on Bill.

As it turns out Jesse ropes Bill into a card game which will ultimately lead to a High Noon Showdown, which will be followed by Billy Drago bowing out of this movie thirty minutes in.  Thanks for stopping by Billy. 

But there's trouble on the horizon because the copperheads are on this horizon.  Zillions of them.  I mean it's gonna get hotter in this town than nickel night at the whore house.  That's Wild Bill's line, not mine.  Bill's not alone in this battle though
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as he has a couple of whores on his side such as Whore Jane (Wendy Carter), an outlaw in Outlaw Will Bonney (Keith Stone), the bar owner in Whiskey Slinger Tannen (Nick Harvey) is down for the cause and also on his team is  Josiah (Atanas Srebrev) the piano playing maestro who is also a doctor on top of having a healthy knowledge of the bible and amazingly is also an amateur herpetologist.  There's also the cowardly sheriff as played by FCU favorite Todd Jensen.  If you know Todd Jensen like we know Todd Jensen then you know he's going to die in this movie, as he has done in so many others, which is why Todd is an honorary Black Guy to us here at the FCU.  And about actor Atanas Srebrev, it turns out that this guy, and the movies he's been in, make him the most represented actor on the FCU as there are over forty Atanas Srebrev movies on this site, snatching the crown from C. Thomas Howell.  This is partly because we believe the man to be Bulgarian and we watch a lot of low budget Sci-Fi styled movies shot in Bulgaria, he also has the ability to speak with zero accent and he can actually act.  Give it up for Atanas Srebrev!

Anyway, the siege is on, snakes are everywhere, the townsfolk are dropping like flies and the technique of shooting at snakes seems woefully inadequate, not that this is going to stop anybody from doing this.  But Wild Bill has a plan.  Which was a good plan until it turned out he needed another, better plan.  Let's just say a bigger plan.  It's MEGA SNAKE TIME!

Want to know one of the main things which makes 'Copperhead' semi awesome?  That would be Nathan Furst, son of Stephen, brother to Griff.  If one is going to make a Western, sweeping vistas are cool, double swinging door saloons help, honky-tonk whores are welcomed and dusty towns are critical but none of this matters if you don't have the right musical score.  More so than any genre of cinema, the score will make or break your Western and I've seen way too many modern Westerns which didn't get this.  Nathan Fust got it.  Best modern Western styled musical score since 'Silverado', and this is a lowly sci-fi original we're talking about here.

The music is key, but most everything else in 'Copperhead' is above board as well.  Brad Johnson made for a pretty decent squinty eyed cowboy, director Todor Chapkanov has clearly seen his fair share of Westerns as a kid and he had his signature Western camera cues on point in addition to keeping this nonsense plowing forward.  Even the High Noon Showdown felt right and was shot properly, and had some good build up despite the fact it happened in this movies first act which does kind of limit the tension of a High Noon Showdown.  Wendy Carter made for a fantastic long-legged whore, 'Copperhead' didn't take itself all that seriously, effectively straddling the line between camp and seriousness while never descending into complete buffoonery, and of course Atanas Srebrev is in this movie and you can never discount the Atanas Srebrev factor in any movie.

Sure the CGI snakes look like ass, but if the biggest criticism I can levy at a Sci-Fi original is that the CGI looks like ass, which is pretty much a given anyway, then we're starting off ahead of the game already.  All I'm saying is that credit goes where credit is due and 'Copperhead' is fine example of what every low budget, crap CGI movie on the SyFy channel should aspire to. 
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